A star in her own right: Tara McDonald on her collab with Zion & Lennox and the future of EDM
We chat with Tara McDonald and find out more about her latest collab, and whether EDM is in safe hands
Tara McDonald got introduced to performing arts at a very young age, in both music and theatre. And, if her education is anything to go by — she graduated from the BRIT School in the UK, which also saw other acclaimed musicians get their schooling there, like Adele, Amy Winehouse, Jessie J, and Leona Lewis — then her initiation into the music industry was well and truly destined. But before that, she performed in the play Les Miserables, at the Palace Theatre, London. It was around that time that she delivered her first music performance as well. “Well, my music has definitely evolved a lot,” says the 31-year-old singer-songwriter from Dartford, England, who adds, “When I started out, I was mostly playing the piano. Then I got lucky to get a chance to perform at a club in London. That’s where I was spotted by someone from Universal Music Publishing, and they asked me to write a song for them, which ended up being a hit in London. They retained my voice in the song, and since then there was no looking back.” Since then she has delivered hits like Delirious (with David Guetta), Get Down (with Todd Terry), My My My and Feel The Vibe (with Armand van Helden and Axwell), among many others.
Buck stops here
Now, Tara is riding high on the success of her latest song, Money Maker, which she sang in collaboration with Puerto Rican reggaeton music duo Zion & Lennox and has been released under the label of Mumbai-based 9122 Records. “I’m really happy to have collaborated with them. They were the perfect people, and the idea of the song is about liberation and feeling free. Like you’re being so good in your body that you’re dancing just for yourself.” Telling us how about she grew up in a musical environment, Tara says, “I have had a passion for music for as long as I can remember. My parents loved music — dad used to play the piano and accordion, and I loved listening to reggae and opera, plus ’80s pop music and such. There was always music in the house. I think that somehow influenced me when I was a kid. ”
One day at a time
However, despite the smooth transition into being a musician, she still had her fair share of uncertainties paired with happy moments. “Being in the music industry is a lot like gambling — you need to keep a check on yourself,” she opines. “You just don't know how it’s gonna go. Every project is like a baby, you work so hard on it, but you don’t know how it’s going to work.” One of the many highlights in her career, she says, was when one of her songs was handpicked as an anthem for a pride movement. “A cover of my song I Need a Miracle (remixed by Gregor Salto) was picked as an anthem for EuroPride. For me, that was really something because I campaign a lot for human rights and for them to have picked my song was really amazing,” says Tara, who considers Madonna as one of her inspirations. “She was the first real female music icon and since the age of 16, she has been relentlessly fighting for human rights. She helped women feel that they could be strong and empowered. Plus, she is still relevant in music too,” she adds.
All in the word
As for the future of EDM, does she see the genre overtaking hip-hop as the most popular genre in the world? Tara has her doubts, but she gives a positive answer. “I love EDM and electronic music and I always will. Working with all the DJs has been a dream for me and I couldn't have done all this on my own, so I am really grateful. I think EDM will always be popular because people just want to dance. It’s all about bringing people together and that is a beautiful thing and people need to feel connected to each other and I think that’s what EDM music does. About overtaking hip-hop, I really don’t know. For me, it all depends on the kind of song and its story. I am a real fan of lyrics and messages. For me, the most successful songs are the ones with the greatest messages that connect with everyone, regardless of what genre they belong to,” she concludes.